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Chevy Volt Gets Cleaner: Chevy To Recycle Parts From Gulf Oil Spill

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On: Wed, Dec 22, 2010 at 12:42PM | By: Chris Weiss


Chevy Volt Gets Cleaner: Chevy To Recycle Parts From Gulf Oil Spill

Okay, the Chevy Volt is getting to be like the annoying kid in your high school class. The one who was not only smart but also funny, good looking and athletic—the football captain/valedictorian type.

The Chevy has had serious green bragging rights from the word go, despite the mild controversy of whether it's truly a range-extending electric vehicle or a hybrid. It's recently been mopping the floor with the industry in terms of awards, with "Car of the Year" honors from Motor Trend and Green Car Journal, and a finalist spot for the North American Car of the Year, to be determined in Detroit next month. And then there was the whole auction first-sale, where instead of keeping the proceeds, the Chevy Volt selflessly gave that $250,000 to charity.

Puke-a-rific, right? Well, the Chevy Volt has decided it's not brown-nosing the environment quite enough. GM announced this week that it will be recycling plastics from the booms used to soak up the oil in 2010 'story of the year' candidate, the Gulf oil spill. Yeah, the Volt's even kicking some Gulf oil spill ass now.

GM announced this week that it has a recycling process that will allow it to harvest 100,000 pounds of the used plastic and turn it into plastic components for use in Volts. In fact, GM has had so much success with this process, that it predicts the entire first production year of Volts will be have all plastic parts sourced from the material. So instead of sending this nasty plastic to landfills, it will see second life in the nation's favorite green vehicle. What a rags to riches story.

The parts in question (or at least the ones GM mentioned) will be under the hood, designed to deflect air around the radiator. They will be made from 25 percent boom plastic and 25 percent recycled tires. The other 50 percent will be a mix of post-consumer recycled plastics and other polymers.

"Creative recycling is one extension of GM's overall strategy to reduce its environmental impact," said Mike Robinson, GM vice president of Environment, Energy and Safety policy. "We reuse and recycle material by-products at our 76 landfill-free facilities every day. This is a good example of using this expertise and applying it to a greater magnitude."

For once, the Volt won't be alone as GM's chosen child, though: GM plans to continue harvesting the boom material as the clean-up efforts go on during the next few months. It anticipates gathering enough to use for plastic components of other vehicles, though it hasn't yet identified what models will be included.

So the Volt gets a little more irritating. But in all seriousness, this sounds like a solid effort by GM.

PRESS RELEASE

Chevrolet Volt Components Created from Gulf of Mexico Oil-Soaked Booms
100,000 Pounds of Waste Saved from the Nation's Landfills


2010-12-20

DETROIT – Oil-soaked plastic boom material used to soak up oil in the Gulf of Mexico is finding new life as auto parts in the Chevrolet Volt.

General Motors has developed a method to convert an estimated 100 miles of the material

off the Alabama and Louisiana coasts and keep it out of the nation's landfills. The ongoing project is expected to create enough plastic under hood parts to supply the first year production of the extended-range electric vehicle.

"Creative recycling is one extension of GM's overall strategy to reduce its environmental impact," said Mike Robinson, GM vice president of Environment, Energy and Safety policy. "We reuse and recycle material by-products at our 76 landfill-free facilities every day. This is a good example of using this expertise and applying it to a greater magnitude."

Recycling the booms will result in the production of more than 100,000 pounds of plastic resin for the vehicle components, eliminating an equal amount of waste that would otherwise have been incinerated or sent to landfills.

The parts, which deflect air around the vehicle's radiator, are comprised of 25 percent boom material and 25 percent recycled tires from GM's Milford Proving Ground vehicle test facility. The remaining is a mixture of post-consumer recycled plastics and other polymers.

GM worked with several partners throughout the recovery and development processes. Heritage Environmental managed the collection of boom material along the Louisiana coast. Mobile Fluid Recovery stepped in next, using a massive high-speed drum that spun the booms until dry and eliminated all the absorbed oil and wastewater. Lucent Polymers used its process to then manipulate the material into the physical state necessary for plastic die-mold production. Tier-one supplier, GDC Inc., used its patented EndurapreneTM material process to combine the resin with other plastic compounds to produce the components.

The work in the Gulf is expected to last at least two more months and GM will continue to assist suppliers in collecting booms until the need no longer exists. The automaker anticipates enough material will be gathered that it can be used as components in other Chevrolet models.

"This was purely a matter of helping out," said John Bradburn, manager of GM's waste-reduction efforts. "If sent to a landfill, these materials would have taken hundreds of years to begin to break down, and we didn't want to see the spill further impact the environment. We knew we could identify a beneficial reuse of this material given our experience."

The world's first electric vehicle with extended range, the Chevy Volt was recently awarded Green Car of the Year by Green Car Journal.

GM is dedicated to reducing its waste and pollutants, and recycles materials at every state of the product lifecycle. It uses recycled and renewable materials in its cars and trucks, which are at least 85 percent recyclable. Used tires, old plastic bottles, denim and nylon carpet are all redirected from landfills and reused in select GM vehicles.

GM facilities worldwide recycle 90 percent of the waste they generate. The automaker recently announced more than half of its worldwide facilities are now landfill-free – all manufacturing waste is recycled or used to create energy.

About General Motors – General Motors Company (NYSE:GM, TSX: GMM), one of the world's largest automakers, traces its roots back to 1908. With its global headquarters in Detroit, GM employs 209,000 people in every major region of the world and does business in more than 120 countries. GM and its strategic partners produce cars and trucks in 31 countries, and sell and service these vehicles through the following brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Daewoo, Holden, Isuzu, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall, and Wuling. GM's largest national market is China, followed by the United States, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, and Russia. GM's OnStar subsidiary is the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information services. General Motors acquired operations from General Motors Corporation on July 10, 2009, and references to prior periods in this and other press materials refer to operations of the old General Motors Corporation. More information on the new General Motors can be found at www.gm.com.




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